Family Issues and the Holidays



The holidays always bring out the best and the worst in people. Families come together filled with the warm sentiment of jingle bells and holiday cheer and encounter instead all those irritating qualities in siblings and parents that make the distance between them seem a blessing. Often, the parent-children relationship is no longer what it use to be, but nor has it evolved beyond that old paradigm into what it is now: a family of adults interacting together on a (hopefully) loving and festive occasion. All too often parents still treat their now adult offspring as the dependents that they once were, and/or the grown children now treat their aging parents with resentment at the fact that the roles have now changed, and the impending possibility that the parents will soon or now need care from their children … or, at the very least, understanding and compassion for the aging process that they are experiencing. The parents feel vulnerable and the adult children become bossy, or worse yet, bullying. Often tempers flair. The family core becomes damaged. Everyone pulls distance.

Being a parent myself, and speaking from first hand experience, I find it critical to take time out to sit down together and have a heart-to-heart talk, rather than indulging in verbal bashings of one another, which will and does do serious damage to the psyche. Try to acknowledge and understand where everyone – yourself included — is coming from, and what they’re going through. Often enough, parents and children alike just want to be seen and valued for who they are now, rather than the roles they each inhabited before. For the most part, we all do the best we can given the hand we’ve been dealt and who we are. It’s not up to any of us to sacrifice our entire life for the other, forever, nor do we want to be cold-hearted takers who never give back. And it’s my experience that every parent – at some level – loves their kid. They may not love parenthood or even be suitable for the job, but it’s a built-in factor to love and want to protect your kid.

We often treat our pets with greater care than we show to one another. Granted, families can be infuriating. They push all our buttons. They make impossible demands upon us. They rarely turn out the way we wanted or expected. (We can say the same about Life!) They hurt us to the quick. And still, they are our blood and DNA, and when they’re gone the hole in our lives is beyond measure. So honor your family for all that it is and is not, and know that without them you would not exist! This time together – for better or worse – is precious. Cherish it.

Happy holiday!

~Paulette Frankl 12/15/15

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